MADSAKI - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 23, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Perrotin, Seoul
    Private Collection, Asia
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Seoul, Galerie Perrotin, MADSAKI: BADA BING, BADA BOOM, 15 November 2017 – 13 January 2018

  • Catalogue Essay

    MADSAKI, a Japan-born visual artist known only by a pseudonym, is one of the rising stars of the contemporary art world. Known for his signature use of spray paint, his works cast a critical eye upon mass culture and art historical tropes – both examining the cultural value systems inherent to making art, and re-interpreting them in his inimitable style.

    MADSAKI’s journey as an artist is no less unconventional than his work. Moving to the States as a 6-year old boy, his early encounters with New York’s graffitied streets left a deep impression. But after graduating from the prestigious Parsons School of Design, he decided to become a New York bike messenger ‘to get away from art’. An unexpected turn of events in quick succession put an end to his hiatus from the art world: first a road accident which crushed his bike but left him unscathed, which consequently caused him to miss his shift at the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11. A few days later came an unexpected invitation from an old friend to paint with The Barnstormers, a collective of experimental artists who were working on a project in the city. The encounter was to prove significant, changing his perspective on art, and life, entirely:

    “I was hesitant, but I came out eventually because I had nothing else to do. It blew my mind! There were rollers and spray cans. I had never seen art like this and the untraditional ways of painting. This felt right. This made me realise that I wanted to do art.” (Madsaki, quoted in Kim Bui Kollar, “Quirky Japanese artist Madsaki”, Hashtag Legend, 4 June 2018, online).

    Resuming his art practice after a ten-year break, he experimented until he settled upon his trademark technique of utilising spray paint – a medium more commonly associated with street art and graffiti - to create ‘fine art’. Using stencil caps attached to the spray can to produce a refined spray of paint, he explained:

    “I prefer dripping or grimy lines to clean lines. I really do not try and paint finely at all. There are way too many people who are good at painting beautifully. I’m happy to leave that up to them. […] I am painting with spray, not with a brush.” (MADSAKI, quoted in Takuya Nakao, “MADSAKI: BADA BING, BADA BOOM”, Perrotin, November 2017, online)

    Untitled, one of the works from MADSAKI’s Character Series, was created after MADSAKI’s return to Japan and speaks to the disorienting experiences between two cultures that formed his aesthetics and personality. Mixing cultural traditions and storytelling with an eclectic ensemble of instantly-recognisable American cartoons and Japanese manga characters, Untitled brings together Sesame Street’s Big Bird, Beavis and Butthead, Star Wars’ R2-D2 and C-3PO, Homer and Bart Simpson, Stimpy from Nickelodeon’s Ren and Stimpy Show, as well as Gatchan and King Nikochan from Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball Z. MADSAKI explained his emotional connection to these characters:

    “I grew up watching all those American and Japanese cartoons. I just wanted to mash up all the things that have a special meaning to me from that time. […] To me, [Big Bird] represents English language and would never swear. But I can make them do what they would never do. It’s a weird kind of self-portrait.” (MADSAKI, quoted in Laurel Tuohy, “MADSAKI: Interview with street-meets-fine art Japanese painter ahead of Bangkok show”, Coconuts Bangkok, 8 May 2018, online)

    Satirical, yet sentimental, MADSAKI employs slogans to drive home his subversive brand of art-making. ‘Who’s buying peace?’, the sign held up by Big Bird in Untitled, is a reconfigured phrase taken from Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?, an iconic album by American thrash metal band Megadeth. The title track’s lyrics express disillusionment with the American way of life and yearning for a new social structure – a parallel sentiment arguably echoed in postwar Japan. Aggressive, cryptic and vulnerable all at once, Untitled opens up a crucial dialogue concerning the value of art and the role of the artist within mass culture. MADSAKI captures the zeitgeist of our times, like other artists who rebelled against conventions and eventually came to define the spirit of their era. Unafraid to speak to power structures and cultural divisions like Basquiat, unafraid to use appropriation as a tool for social commentary like Warhol, and unafraid to embrace popular culture like KAWS, MADSAKI is the embodiment of a new art world order.

    MADSAKI’s uncompromising approach to art has won him many fans, including fellow Japanese icon Takashi Murakami, who hails the younger artist’s “bottomless talent” and has bought dozens of pieces for his personal “Superflat” collection. Today MADSAKI is represented by several prominent international art galleries, including Galerie Perrotin (where MADSAKI first unveiled Untitled at his solo show BADA BING, BADA BOOM in 2017) and Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo.



signed and dated 'Madsaki 2017' on the overlap
acrylic and aerosol on canvas
150 x 150 cm. (59 x 59 in.)
Executed in 2017.

HK$1,000,000 - 2,000,000 

Sold for HK$3,000,000

Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019